Have you ever been caught in the middle of that embarrassing moment when your child stubbornly refuses to greet the ‘elders’ in room? Usually what many parents do is playfully try to coax their children into greeting. Others lash out the ‘Can’t you greet’ line. But unfortunately, the more they demand the greeting, the more determined the child is to stay tight-lipped.

Still, there are some other parents who deliberately overlook such incidences. For example, an aunty stretches out her hand to greet the child who instantly folds his hand in refusal. Probably knowing that the situation may get worse if it is dragged any longer, the parent gives an excuse for the child and quickly takes the conversation towards another direction.

Many times, such behaviours are excused as a type of ‘shyness’ that will be overgrown with age. But this is not necessarily always the case considering the fact that there are a number of older children who seem not to have overgrown the habit. At such ages the children are just regarded as outright rude, leaving the parents  both livid with anger and red with embarrassment.

To be honest, this is also an issue I have struggled with but I recently came up with a technique which I believe is gradually working. What I do is try to prepare my child for the situation ahead.

For example, in my daughter’s school, 2 teachers are always positioned at the gate to welcome the children every morning. Initially, we just used to walk past the teachers as I mumbled a quick ‘goodmorning’ at them. But after a while, thinking about the situation a little more deeply, I came to the conclusion that even though most of the children often ignored the teachers as they walked pass every morning, there was no reason why my daughter should follow suit.

So at first what I did was to ask her to greet whenever we get to gate. However my request was persistently met with an embarrassingly loud silence. Not wanting to make a scene I would often just let the incident go and then proceed to verbally correct my daughter during our short walk to her classroom. But with the same thing happening day in, day out, it was sadly obvious that all my long ‘talk’ wasn’t working.

Not giving up, what I decided to do next was to prepare her for the situation beforehand. So every morning, during our drive to school, I would playfully engage her in an interactive chat. Here’s what my own end of the chat often looks like…

‘You know at your school, there are these two aunties who are always standing at the gate. So when you see them today I want you to greet them. What do you say to them? ‘Goodmorning ma’. And don’t forget to smile when greeting. Okay, let me see your smile…Fantastic!!! When you get to your class, also remember to greet your teacher and what do you say to your friends…’hello’. Remember to smile. Okay, let me see you smile again. Pretty, pretty, pretty. You’re such a princess. Give me a hi-five’.

Now, this strategy of mine has actually been producing some results. Even though my daughter’s greeting at the gate is always in a very low tone, she is at least stopping to acknowledge the teachers At other times, she stops to flash a huge smile and honestly, the delight that the smile often produces in the teachers is pretty awesome.  Then when she gets into class, she runs over to her teacher’s table to give her a morning hug. So you see, even though I would love for her voice itself to be a lot louder when the greeting rolls out, I believe that for a little toddler she isn’t doing badly at all. Also, as I keep reinforcing the fact that the greeting should come out as clearly as the hugs and smiles, I believe she would soon get a knack of the whole concept.

So, what’s your own story? Have you been embarrassed when your child refused to respond to the greeting of maybe one of your elderly in-laws? Do you believe that at such young ages, children shouldn’t be burdened with the need to greet because they are probably just shy? Do you think that with time, they will lose the habit? Or have you intentionally gone all out to get your child to break the habit?

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